The soft opening

A soft opening is much like eating a soft shell crab: it is something that you delve into without fully thinking of what it might entail.  I’m sure this is an amateurish approach, and many others treat soft openings differently, but for me, it was true.  I was embarking on the dry run of my adventures of working and traveling.  However, it stopped short of being my maiden voyage (watch out New Orleans!!).

I spent 8 days in Atlantic-side Florida with my father.  We used a condo that my parents inherited from my grandfather, so I had time right on the beach… well, on the other side of a leafy sand dune.

As far as soft openings go, this was a good one.  I had four goals: 1) actually work despite being in a fun/beautiful place; 2) actually enjoy the fun/beautiful place despite working; 3) learn how else I can prepare in order to enhance the experience; and 4) not get aggravated at my temporary roommate.  I do declare, each and every one of these goals were more successfully met when I had sufficient sleep.

Last goal first: my roommate (who is also my dad) is a wonderful, patient man.  But too much together time with anyone can create the grouchies.  We are accustomed to spending a lot of time together, but we have more space within our usual home, and usually had different activities and priorities during the day.  Fortunately, my work schedule gave me the space and me-time I needed, and I very much enjoyed his company.  Check and check!  I could have done with far less Fox News; however, that’s a reflection of my preferences.  I don’t prefer such strong innuendos and editorial comments of opinion from either side of the aisle.  That’s just my personal approach to news.

I was only an hour ahead of my usual time, so waking up at 7 am was easy peasy.  Coffee on the patio overlooking ocean waves every morning was a wonderful, peaceful way to wake up, but I found that I missed talking to my mom over morning coffee.  I knew it would be too cool for mom on the patio due to the very real kind of breeze.  Not just a brisk wind, but an ocean breeze that whips up the waves and reminds you that the ocean is not the gentle giant it sometimes pretends to be.  It was November, after all.  But as I had my morning coffee alone, I missed even the grumpy silence of sitting together quietly, and trying to respect that the other person’s morning struggle is the same as yours until you both slowly break into wakefulness.

Most mornings I went for a wog before going to work.  Sophisticated exercisers call it “interval training,” but for me it is an unplanned mixture of walking and jogging that is not goal driven (other than general fitness), but rather: I feel like walking, or I feel like going slightly faster for a bit.  The walk/jog, wog.  After the wog, I took a shower, and went to the condo office to work.  Strangely, our condo doesn’t have wifi, so I had to find a place that does.  A coffee shop would work; however, the condo office featured a unique brand of complaints that provided an underlying level of entertainment to the work day.  “I don’t want to be unreasonable, but I bought that AC unit 5 years ago and I already gave you the permit.” “My gate clicker is broken!” “My hot water heater is not too big, the closet is too small.” “My gate clicker is broken!” “I expect that elevator to be working, or else.” “Is there something wrong with my gate clicker?” “Oh goodness, did someone paint in here?” “You see, my wife is terribly afraid of geckos, and….” “It really smells like paint.” “My gate clicker…..”

Instead of being distracting, this provided a nice backdrop to a day of reading and analyzing documents, then organizing their impact on the general story making up a chain of ownership.  That’s what I do for a living.  I always went back to the condo for lunch, and sometimes had a short walk on the beach during my lunchbreak.  Responsibility pulled me back to work for a few more hours, until evening or being brain dead stopped my labor.  Evenings consisted of dinner with my dad, sometimes more work if I could accomplish anything without internet, and sometimes going down to the pool and hot tub to relax.  I tried to swim laps one time for exercise and it wasn’t the cool weather so much as my disgraceful performance that stopped me.  My breast stroke is adequate, but my freestyle is frankly obscene.  It looks like I’m drowning, and it is slower than a slug escaping a puddle of beer.  All drive, no natural ability.

Back to my goals.  I successfully applied myself to work despite being in a fun, different, beautiful place.  Sometimes it was hard to focus, but staying on top of my assignments made me more relaxed in the long run.  I get very tense and stressed out if I fall behind – I just don’t like to let anyone down.  Also, I very much enjoyed the serenity of the area even though I had to work.  This is not a party place, but a calmer locale.  I also learned what I want to do to prepare for my next visit, and the very first thing I did was put out a blast to ask if any of my friends would help me improve my swimming skills.  I have several offers, and I am definitely going to take someone up on it!  I am also going to bring my tennis racquet and such for practice.  The condo has tennis courts, a ball machine and a practice wall, and I’m quite rusty with my tennis skills.  In addition, I plan on taking a paddle board lesson when I return to see if I enjoy it.  More than half of the complex is on the river side of the barrier island, and either a kayak or a paddle board would be really enjoyable.  If I look in the local paper, I might find something for a good price.  We also have a storage locker to keep the gear in.  Finally, I didn’t have my compatriot, Magnolia, with me on this trip, and I can’t think of many other things that would improve my stay more than her.  I missed my puppy, what can I say?

I had a soft shell crab sandwich for lunch one day.  I waded into it without reservation or thought of what still might still be inside, and I ate the whole thing.  Even when something questionable fell from the crab to the plate (an odd liquid substance which did not resemble the hot sauce I used), I banished all thoughts of guts and munched on.  It was delicious, but I confess that I still have not googled soft shell crabs to see what horrors and innards they might contain.  Sometimes blissful ignorance is the best.  I’ll leave my introspection to my soft opening, not my soft shelled crab.

— Your huckleberry

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